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News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. (2013) The investigation into 18-year-old Hannah Hill's disappearance takes unexpected turns. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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Denny Ross 24, Akron 9, Hughes 5, Brad 4, Caine 4, Meyer 4, At&t 3, Campbell 3, Turbotax 2, America 2, Hannah 2, Jerry Hughes 2, Alan 2, Bob 2, Leo Diamond 2, Brad Oborn 2, Denny 2, God 1, Bro 1, Ohio 1,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb.   
   (2013) The investigation into 18-year-old Hannah Hill's...  

    February 1, 2013
    10:00 - 11:00pm PST  

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"dateline." here's dennis murphy with our story. >> she was a girl who made big entrances. >> she could walk in the room and light up the place. she'd make the whole room smile. >> she was always happy, just wanted to have fun. >> but it was her exit, her sudden disappearance -- poof -- gone from her house just like that enshrouded young hannah hill in mystery. >> ms. hill was last seen last wednesday. we're asking anyone with information to contact the detective bureau. >> she was 18 years old and days from turning 19 and seemed to be in for the night. a former homecoming queen in her pjs phoning a few friends from her basement bedroom in her mom and dad's in akron, ohio. it's too late now, but you wish she could answer just one question. why did you leave the house so suddenly that night? her brother justin doesn't know. >> she got dressed and she said i'll be back.
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i love you. >> that was it? >> i've never seen her again. >> the thing was, the next morning was going to be a red letter day for hannah. she'd drive the geo prism to a a first day at diebold, the company that makes atms. her boyfriend of more than a a year, brad oborn, expected her to swing by his place in the morning to pick him up. he says she was a no show. >> i remember waking up with this eerie, gut feeling that something wasn't right. i paged her and no answer and she would always call me back. always. and she didn't. >> the kids relied on pagers back then. cell phones and text messaging were off in the future for the circle of friends. her mom kim was a homemaker and dad was scratching out work as a boilermaker in the rust belt. dad loved his girl.
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>> hannah, she was a lovely kid. she always loved everybody. >> she liked the spice girls and signed her letters with tiny pink hearts. a nice kid. these friends of hannah thought so. >> she was a very easygoing person. definitely someone you could be friends with very easily. >> she was a great friend. she was a great girl. >> tara ferguson was her best friend forever. >> she's so fun and silly and funny. >> no doubt she was a very pretty young girl. >> yes. she was a hopeless romantic and she was bound to try to find that prince charming. that prince charming. >> now not every teenage girl has the same definition of prince charming. hannah's boyfriend brad, for instance, was a high school dropout with more than a few rough edges, but by all accounts hannah was smitten.
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>> definitely her one true love. she just really loved him and was really happy. >> and brad, he remembers like yesterday being captivated by the girl at the party with the lively brown eyes. they quickly became a couple. >> did you think i'm really lucky to have this girl? >> i did, and we used to get compliments. people would say you guys look so cute together. >> by spring 1999 hannah's friends and family thought she was growing distant. they worried that brad was tugging her into a world where she didn't belong. >> she trusted everybody. >> saw the best in everybody. >> yeah. >> and didn't have a radar up? >> no. that's where we differed. >> and now hannah hill had vanished into the night. out there somewhere, but where? thursday turned to friday. the close friends were frantic. >> we were calling eacother back and forth. i'm calling the hills. i'm paging her. she's not calling. that just wasn't like her.
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>> we were freaking out now. so we make out thousands of flyers and we're passing them out. have you seen my cyster? has anyone seen my sister? >> and you're hearing no, no, no, no. >> nothing. >> brad oborn, the boyfriend took it a step further. he went to the police station on friday, the first of several visits to the cops. >> my girlfriend is missing and it doesn't seem the police are doing very much. >> long days became longer nights with no words from hannah. by tuesday evening she'd been missing more than a week and the police finally turned to the media. >> an 18-year-old girl had vanished and police are asking for help. >> when it came to the tv that she was missing it got very real. >> the very next morning a breakthrough, news that police had located hannah's car. it was parked on a quiet dead end street called caine road. jerry hughes raced to the scene
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and detectives popped the trunk. it was worse than you'd expected. >> you've seen a lot of stuff in a lot of years. how does this fit? in the awful things that cops encounter? >> it's sickening. it's something you can't unsee. you will see that for the rest of your life. >> the body of hannah hill had been found naked on the waist down. posed, her shirt up. >>@the automobile belonging to missing person hannah hill had been seen parked on caine road. pictures of her car being towed away made the evening news. >> devastated. how could this happen? >> i just totally kind of blacked out. every emotion just hit me all at once. what had happened to hannah and why? >> and an even bigger question, who? who had killed hannah? police quickly focused on one man, hannah's boyfriend brad. >> we found out that he was a drug dealer, and that he liked to chase other girls.
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hannah hill was buried in a family plot in kentucky a day after what would have been her 19th birthday. for her friends back in akron, caine road, the quiet, residential street where her car had been found became a place to honor her all-too-brief life. >> we put ribbons around nearby trees in remembrance. >> the heat was on to find her killer.
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the akron police department was already facing intense scrutiny for taking a full week to find hannah's car. there it sat abandoned in the night on caine road where just hours after hannah first disappeared residents began calling police to come take a look. >> at least five neighbors called police. we have a car on our neighborhood that's totally unexplained and you need to come out here. >> ed meyer is a reporter for "the akron beacon journal." he said neighbors saw car keys on the dashboard and hannah's name written in two places. in a black eye to the department that lingers to this day, police came and ticketed the car and failed to make the connection. >> how could this car have sat there since wednesday and not be connected with this? >> well, i think that's -- entirely possible for a car to be parked for many days anywhere in the city. >> did somebody drop the ball here, captain? >> well, again, that's under
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investigation. >> was the investigation compromised horribly because of that delay? the condition of the body and forensic results? >> very possible. it gave time for whoever did this to cover his tracks. >> who did do it? in the week after hannah vanished all of the while her body in the trunk of her car undetected the police were trying to make sense of her boyfriend, brad oborn. when detectives checked him out with hannah's family they got an earful. >> mr. hill was never a fan of brad oborn. >> they knew very well who he was. >> he didn't like him and mr. hill made no bones about it. >> i tried to put her away from matt oborn, but you know when kids get something in their head the more you try the further they get away from you. >> hannah's friends saw things they didn't like about brad, too. >> i told her she could do better and he wasn't good for her. >> and when they met him police
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were struck by brad's demeanor. >> before hannah's car was found police officer washington lacy was pulling weekend duty when again into the station walked a fuming teenager demanding to know what was being done to find his missing girlfriend. >> first impression was, like, he was -- he just was abrasive. brad's attitude wasn't the only thing to catch the officer's eye. >> right away, i noticed some scratches on him and you kind of raise your eyebrows at that. >> sergeant hughes was on duty that weekend, too. he made note of the angry boyfriend with the scratches. >> he's got physical injuries and he's coming out like a house of fire. >> either he's completely innocent and concerned about his girlfriend and really loved her or he'd done something and was using us as a tool. >> could have fallen either way. >> the detective said brad was visibly upset and told him he'd been a bad boyfriend, jealous, controlling.
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>> we found out that he was a drug dealer and that he liked to chase other girls. >> you know, it takes you pretty closely into means of opportunity country. >> hughes had tough questions for boyfriend brad. >> take off your shirt. we want full fingerprints and palm print, you know? >> is he saying, wait, slow down. i need to talk to a lawyer. >> no. absolutely not. never once said anything about an attorney, his rights, just find my girlfriend. whatever you need, find my girlfriend. >> and then came the awful day they discovered hannah's body. >> now we're hammering, if not you, who? basically? >> you think he's good for this crime. >> not sure, but i want more information. give me something to go on. >> to detectives brad was a puzzle. angry and abrasive on one hand and yet cooperative and seemingly distraught about hannah's death in the other. >> it just didn't click.
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>> questions still swirled around brad in the hours after hannah's body was discovered and now the case was about to spin off in a whole new direction. investigators had obtained hannah's phone logs and learned she'd made four calls on her last night. one to a girlfriend, two to brad, and another to a boy named denny ross. >> denny ross. does it mean anything to anybody? >> it doesn't mean anything to me. >> the detectives learned denny ross lived to a three-bedroom apartment next to a porn shop. they drove over and knocked on the door. >> denny ross answers the door and he's got a phone in his hand, and i say, i'm detective hughes. i'd like to talk to you about this, and he says i have my attorney on the phone. >> attorney? >> well, that's a little different. coming up, was there an each more surprising admission from denny ross still to come about a visit from hannah the very night she died. >> her and i were conner have
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say thing, you know, pretty much we kissed and stuff. >> but did that lead to murder? when "dateline" continues. [ male announcer ] i've seen incredible things. otherworldly things. but there are some things i've never seen before. this ge jet engine can understand 5,000 data samples per second. which is good for business. because planes use less fuel, spend less time on the ground and more time in the air. suddenly, faraway places don't seem so...far away. ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ investigators looking into the murder of hannah hill had followed her phone logs to the doorstep of 20-year-old denny ross. denny, it turned out, was a friend of hannah's boyfriend brad oborn. the kids knew denny as the host at a non-stop fun house and crash pad. >> were you surprised hannah was hanging around with that crowd? >> no. i mean, we hung out with -- with people that didn't do some great stuff, but i guess we just kind of thought it was -- not that it was okay, but we weren't doing it so i guess we were pretty naive, too. >> denny was days into probation on a drug charge and asked to have his lawyer present when detectives arrived for a conversation.
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once the lawyer showed up, detectives took out a tape recorder and began an interview. denny told the detective he stayed in the night hannah disappeared, but then volunteered an astonishing bit of information. >> that makes him in police jargon the the last known person to have seen her alive. >> absolutely. yes. >> denny offered up a tip for the cops. take a look at hannah's boyfriend brad oborn.
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>> but denny, not brad, was suddenly the person cops wanted to know more about. they returned to denny's in force with a search warrant. the officers charging up these exterior stairs said they heard a thus. it wasn't long before one of them found a garbage bag beneath denny's window. in it, hannah's missing clothing. >> is that case closed? >> it's not case closed, but it's a big factor. i've always called that bag of evidence the key factor in this whole case. the magic bag. >> critics of the police working the case like local journalist ed meyer were skeptical. >> we didn't buy it. why would he keep a potential bag of evidence that could hang him inside his apartment for a full week? >> denny insisted he did not toss the bag out the window. his fingerprints weren't found on it and it didn't match any of the garbage bags he had at home. the officers didn't check the temperature of the bag and
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couldn't say if it had been outside for minutes or for days. still, the next day, denny was charged with hannah's rape and murder. >> breaking news at this hour, an arrest has been made in the murder of 18-year-old hannah hill. >> the arrest of good time denny was incomprehensible to hannah's friends. >> i just can't see why someone we knew would want to hurt her. >> denny's father was stunned, too. >> you tell me who your boy is. who is denny ross? >> denny ross. boy, a young kid who got himself in a situation by telling the truth. >> the father says denny was an average, carefree kid, excited about a new job in internet marketing, not a killer. >> personality, demeanor, if he walked in the door who would we meet? >> you would meet a person who just doesn't stop smiling. it doesn't matter who you are, you'll feel at home when you're around him because he's got that personality. >> the medical examiner ruled hannah's death a homicide by
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asphyxiation, saying she was strangled to death, but little else was clear. for instance the semen found in hannah's body during the autopsy said the sample wasn't useful because of the week her body lay in the trunk of her car and then there were what critics saw investigative lapses. police never checked brad oborn's alibi the night hannah disappeared and never checked her pager records and never performed a key chemical test of the carpet in denny's apartment, the luminol test. >> the police investigators can spray a chemical on this alleged evidence and it will lum ines and show us blood and therefore can be tested. that was never done. >> visible blood spots were found on denny's apartment walls, but in the dozens of samples of blood and fibers sent out for testing none came back to hannah. >> no dna. no blood. you theorize she was killed there. >> right. >> in a bloody homicide and yet there's no trace of her. >> yep. >> nor was there a trace of
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denny on or in hannah's car. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. >> despite the ambiguous evidence, in october 2000, 21-year-old denny ross stood trial for the rape and murder of hannah hill. he pleaded not guilty and faced the death penalty if convicted. >> he beat her into submission so that he could rape her. >> two young prosecutors argued their theory of the case, that inside that apartment denny had raped and killed hannah. they faced off against what the papers were calling a million dollar defense dream team hired by denny's father. the lead defense attorney was day of the chessnah. the girl's mother was called to the stand. >> those were her favorite pants. >> it all came down to the contents of the trash bag found beneath the window. of all of the dna tests run on hannah hannah's clothing spotted with
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blood only one came back to denny, a small semen stain on the the underwear. >> they're kids. they're fooling around. that doesn't mean he raped her. >> the case went to the jury and in the midst of deliberations came a stunning turn. the judge, quite unexpectedly walked into the jury room and declared a mistrial. she said she took that drastic measure because she was getting a report that one of the jurors was talking about a lie detector test not in evidence. a lie detector test brad oborn, hannah's boyfriend had taken and passed. that, said the judge, was jury misconduct. >> the court finds that the jury is unable to fulfill the obligations required by law. >> the prosecution team was stunned. >> it was not a good day. >> more was it a good day for the defense. >> everybody was brokenhearted, including denny. >> denny's team was even more heart broken to learn that when the judge interrupted the jurors they had reached a decision on
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the major counts. "dateline" spoke with four jurors after the trial and they said they had signed and sealed the ballots on all of the charges except the lesser charge of manslaughter. >> rape? >> not guilty. >> not guilty. >> murder? >> not guilty. >> not guilty. >> denny had come oh, so, close to being acquitted in hannah's murder. because juror his voted in his favor his lawyers went back to the courts on grounds of being tried again on double jeopardy. >> how does he get tried again for a crime he was found not guilty of. >> denny waited in jail for over a year while the courts sorted out what to do with him. in 2001 he was released on $1 million bond. >> it's great to be out of here. >> denny's freedom would be short lived and you'll hear about that later. for hannah's friends and family, the shock of her violent death followed by the inconclusive
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trial took an enormous toll. brad oborn lived under a shadow of suspicion and people wondered if he killed hannah. he even did time for robbing a bank. hardest hit was hannah's mother, kim. >> she went into a shell. it ripped our family apart. >> about six fyears ago, a smal shrine to hannah's memory. it wasn't that she ever stopped thinking about her sweet friend, but found she couldn't talk about it. emotions all bottled up. hannah, frozen forever at 18. >> so you went on with your life. >> uh-huh. >> and you have babies. >> yes. >> she never got to do that, did she? >> no. >> the case, meanwhile, was mostly in the deep freeze, making the glacial procession through the courts. seasons passed with no
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resolution, but that was about to change in startling fashion. >> coming up, a second trial, but at times it was hard to know exactly who was the defendant. was it denny ross? >> he was choking me from behind and just squeezing. >> or hannah's boyfriend? >> do you blame yourself for hannah's murder? >> yes. ♪ [ male announcer ] whether it's mom's smartphone... dad's tablet... lauren's smartphone... or kevin's smartphone... at&t makes it affordable for the whole family to share data on all their devices. with at&t mobile share. you can add a tablet for $10 a month. at&t. rethink possible.
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♪ ♪ the trial of denny ross for rape and murder had collapsed. years past with the akron police department getting kicked in the teeth for losing the conviction of what so many people called sloppy police work. >> people remember the case as an akron p.d. fumble. >> unfortunately, that's the way it's remembered by most, but defending ourselves is not what we're concerned with. solving the case what we're
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concerned with. >> with a team of detectives and prosecut prosecutors, jerry hughes, now lieutenant hughes toiled away at hopes of a second chance at convicting denny ross. >> the case went careening into years of appeals in the state, federal and the ohio supreme court. >> finally, the ohio supreme court overturned lower court decisions and ruled that denny ross could be retried for hannah's murder, and so this past august, 13 years after hannah's death, the second trial began. hannah's mother was dreading it said best friend tara. >> she said i have to be here every day. and i know that was probably hard for her. but that's just what she felt she had to do. >> the evidence will show that on that fateful evening of may 19, 1999 -- >> prosecutors anna perralia, and matt meyer laid out that
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theory of the crime that hannah hill was lured over to denny ross' bachelor pad for what would be a fatal encounter. >> do you somelly swear -- >> nearly 70 witnesses were called and some of them testifying off-camera to things denny had told them over the years about hannah's death. >> denny had made a comment to me that he was going [ bleep ] hannah. he said we were all having sex and i was having sex with this girl, and i ended up choking [ bleep ] her -- excuse my language, and she died. >> this woman was a stripper back then and a regular at denny's place. for 12 years she denied being there the night hannah died, but just months before the second trial she changed her story saying now she was there that night and hadn't spoken up earlier because she'd been afraid. >> while you were there, what did you observe? what did you hear? what did you see? >> denny and hannah were in the bedroom? >> did you know what was going on in that bedroom?
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>> i had kind of a good idea. i knew they were [ bleep ] around and when i heard her make weird sounds i just said [ bleep ] this, and i don't want to be in a crime scene and left. >> if they told you the son was going to come up you get a second opinion. >> ten, 13 years later i think you look at somebody for who they are when they come before you. the jury can believe all or none of what they testify to. >> then there was the pathologist who said that dna testing had advanced so much in the years since hannah's death that now they could detect denny's dna in the clothes found in the trash bag and even on the t-shirt found in the car. >> the dna profile from item 1.9 which is one of the cutting from inside the pockets is consistent with denny ross. >> the new evidence, his blood on the victim's clothing seemed to belie his account of two teenagers making out, kissing and stuff.
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>> any intimate relationship isn't in an exchange of blood unless it's a violent exchange. >> one of the most electrifying prosecution witnesses was this woman who said she first met denny in a bar in 2004, five years after hannah's death. denny was out on bond at the time. she said she invited him back to her place where she says he violently attacked her. >> how was he fixated from your neck? >> from behind. he was choking me from behind and just squeezing until -- until i couldn't breathe. i couldn't breathe at all. i know i passed out a few times. >> and what were you doing at this point? >> hoping he can see me breathe. >> choked her during sex, battered is this what happened to hannah hill years before? >> people develop patterns of behavior. it's what we do. we form habits and killers are no different.
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>> the prosecutors knew that denny's lawyers would offer the jury an alternative killer in this trial and who would that be? why, brad oborn, the scratched up boyfriend. to preempt the defense team the prosecutors put brad on the stand. it was a risky strategy. >> i, you know, i was a heroin addict for quite some time. >> the story brad told of his relationship with this nice girl hannah was, for sure, a warts and all presentation. >> i was not a good boyfriend. >> can you explain what not a good boyfriend means? >> i was abusive. i -- i abused her. >> did you verbally abuse her? >> yes.
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>> did you physically abuse her? >> please answer. >> yes. >> brad testified that just days before hannah disappeared they'd had a big fight about him cheating on her and said that's when she scratched him. >> does that picture fairly and accurately represent the scratches that are on your arm? >> yes. >> most painful, he said, was the fact that he had introduced hannah to denny in the first place. >> but for you, hannah hill would never have met denny ross, is that what you're saying, mr. oborn? >> yeah. >> did you blame yourself for hannah's murder? >> yes. >> do you still blame yourself for hannah's murder? >> yes. >> did you kill hannah hill? >> absolutely not. >> the prosecutors had had their chance to show brad as someone clearly not the killer, but now defense attorneys would have
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their crack at him, an all or nothing cross-examination. >> coming up, did brad have a motive for killing hannah? maybe something he had read in her secret diary. >> she wrote that she'd gone to denny's? did you read that when you read the book? >> when "dateline" continues. you want to see something cool? snapshot, from progressive. my insurance company told me not to talk to people like you. you always do what they tell you? no... try it, and see what your good driving can save you. you don't even have to switch. unless you're scared. i'm not scared, it's... you know we can still see you. no, you can't. pretty sure we can... try snapshot today -- no pressure. ready in a minute dad. what's the 411? i can meet you in the car. nah, bro! i'm cool. i'm just chillmaxin'. is there something that you wanted? we can't just spend a little qt as a posse? on the download? dad, why are you talking like that?
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♪ ♪ for 13 years of hearings, appeals and trials, denny ross always had one loyal person in his corner, his father allen. >> did your kid kill hannah hill? >> no. >> in a moment of rough sex that went bad? oh, my god, she's dead, put the body in the car. ditch the car. walk home? >> and then make yourself a suspect by telling the police she was there? no. no. my son didn't do this. >> allen sees hannah showing up at denny's apartment that night looking for a shoulder to cry on. the teenager upset that her boyfriend brad, the guy she recently scratched up had cheated on her. the father said the night
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unfolded just as denny had told the cops. they fooled around a little, kissed and stuff, and hannah left a few hours later. had someone been waiting for her to leave the notorious party house. >> denny ross was framed by the true killer is what you're saying? >> well, it's pretty obvious. >> that was the theory defense attorneys roger synenberg, larry whitney and dominic colletta took to court. preparing for denny's trial number two was a daunting task. >> it turned out to be a 13-year investigation so there was an awful lot of data. >> they insist denny was innocent and the fallout of the heat that came down on the akron p.d. and had failed to find hannah's car. >> once they found the bag of her clothing outside the window the case turned from an investigation into the death of hannah hill into an investigation of denny ross. >> denny's lawyers told the jurors about all of the things police had failed to do like checked hannah's pager records
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or do a luminol test of denny's place. they questioned how denny could have possibly killed hannah in his apartment and left no trace of the murder. >> no blood, no excrement, nothing that belonged to hannah hill and yet that's where they say she was murdered. >> as for the so-called new blood evidence, denny's attorneys told jurors those spots were so tiny they didn't prove anything and challenged the notion that bleeding didn't necessarily prove a violent encounter. >> we all get finger cuts, don't we? >> correct. >> we get mosquito bites, don't we? >> yes. >> the defense challenged the credibility of the prosecution in denny's circle. the former stripper who 12 years along had changed her story now testified she heard denny hurting hannah and the defense
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made her admit she had a pattern of lying. >> so you decided it was better to lie to me, right? >> yeah. >> it was in your best interest to lie to me? >> yes. >> when it came to this woman who had electrified the court by saying denny had attacked and choked her. defense attorney his lost the pretrial battle to keep her off the stand. they insisted no matter what she had to say she couldn't tell the jurors anything about what happened to hannah. >> do you know where hannah hill was in 1999 at 9:00 p.m. until 1999 at 2:00 a.m. >> absolutely not. >> thank you. i have no further questions. >> defense attorney says the focus on those other witnesses were the prosecutor's attempt to shift attention away from the true killer. >> the person who we still believe to this day killed hannah is her boyfriend. brad oborn's alibi was that he was home watching television with his roommates and they
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never interviewed the roommates. >> now denny's attorneys would have a shot at the one man who could create reasonable doubt in their case. brad oborn. they began by attacking his depiction of himself as a bad boyfriend. >> you were a bad boyfriend, but you were also axe buicive. >> correct. >> you slapped her? >> no, i didn't. >> denny's lawyer tried to trip brad up on dates and times. >> you told us earlier today, let me get this straight -- >> you're trying to confuse me. >> did brad have a motive for killing hannah? for an answer to that question, denny's attorneys would turn to hannah's diaries. reporter meyer. >> page after page in her own handwriting. you could argue that she was fed up with bad oborn and was reaching out on the very night she disappeared. >> that could be something for the jury to think about. >> it would be if i was sitting on the panel.
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>> the diary entry, speaking from her grave, hannah's own words who she was thinking of. here on november 11th, here again on december 2nd and on december 16th, in hannah's handwriting, denny. the defense attorney got brad to admit he read the diary cataloging visits to denny. >> it hurt really bad. >> i recognize the fact that she recognized that i read the book. >> did you read that when you read the book? >> i don't remember. >> was it jealousy, then? was that the motive? >> you were concerned that denny was one up on you? >> yes. >> denny's lawyer closed by saying the state's case couldn't
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possibly add up to a conviction. inconclusive dna, a long string of sketchy witnesses and most of all, an angry, abusive, jealous boyfriend. >> in your deliberations who is the evidence stronger? and if there's any kind of evidence against brad oborn, we've got reasonable doubt, then? >> had the defense made a persuasive case? for hannah's family and friends there was now more waiting and just one hope. justice for hannah. >> the truth always comes out no matter what it is. coming up. the verdict in the second trial of denny ross. >> we have two families throughout and we have to take our time and make the right decision. >> and coming up next friday on "dateline." he was a pastor with a passion. >> when a pastor is with one of the parishioners something's wrong. >> this pastor did more than
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♪ ♪ ♪ jurors deliberating, asked by the state to pass judgment on another human being. >> we had two families out there. we had to take our time and make that right decision. >> what would they make of the weeks of testimony? why a murder defendant who didn't even look like one. >> first day i thought he was a lawyer. >> he had the look as if to say why am i here? i didn't do this.
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>> seven jurors in the case spoke to "dateline" and told us initially they were an evenly divided panel of 12. as they talked it became apparent they regarded some of the prosecution witnesses as literally unbelievable. >> and then you as a juror have to make the decision do i believe this story this person's telling me. >> that's really hard especially when they tell you how many drugs they put in their system. >> when it came to this person, the one who testified about denny attacking and choking her, you jurors believed her story about being assaulted, nevertheless, her testimony was not a deciding factor in their final decision. >> you still would have gotten to where you got. >> 13 years later, investigation in the early days after hannah's disappearance, baffled the case. it left them with unanswered questions. >> they didn't look at her pager ask she was a major pager user. >> i wasn't convinced why he
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drop offed the bag. >> i don't know why they didn't use luminol when they went out there. >> tuesday, wednesday, thursday, passed and for those outside the jury room the wait was excruciating. the jurors said they weighed brad oborn's testimony carefully. >> did you believe his testimony? >> looking at his body language and making contact with the jury, i believed him. >> none of us felt it was him and none of his dna was there. >> just after lunch, came word of the decision. lawyers, 14s, family, all assembled at the court. hannah's brother stayed away, shaking. i was at a friend's house waiting by the phone. i was terrified. >> all rise, please. >> in just moments there was no more need for guesswork. >> count one, is it your determination that the defendant committed murder in this count in that he did purposely cause
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the death of hannah hill? is that your decision? >> yes. >> denny ross guilty on all five counts. in the back of the courtroom hannah's friend tara was visibly shaken. >> i was a wreck. it was just very intense. >> i remember thinking -- thank you, god, and a sense of relief all in one fell swoop. >> those long years of work for prosecutors and detectives had paid off. >> the only thing the state of ohio is going to say is that we are grateful to these jurors that they have finally provide an accounting for hannah hill's death. >> jurors told me that in the end it all came down to the blood evidence on hannah's clothes. >> the dna outweighed a lot of unknowns for us. >> it said denny ross was there. >> as a result of the hannah hill case, lieutenant hughes said the akron police department has made many changes throughout the years, especially in the communications department to
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make sure mistakes like the failure to locate hannah's car never happened again. >> 13 years on, can akron residents make sure that the screw-up have been rectified? >> i believe so. and there's been a lot of changes. >> denny ross was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for hannah's death. he won't serve that time for years to come. what the jurors didn't know is that he is already serving a 25-year sentence for the rape and attempted murder of this woman between the two trials. he will be 67 years old before he is eligible for parole. >> we're disappointed. we had hoped for a different result. >> denny's lawyers filed a request for a new trial which was denied. they are appealing the conviction and sentencing and denny's dad has vowed to fight as long as it takes to clear his son. >> do i think there will be a round three? you can bank on it, okay? bank on it. >> reporter ed meyer says he is suspicious to this day about how
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the bag of evidence appeared beneath denny ross' window. >> skeptics can still wonder. absolutely, they can still wonder. >> as for brad oborn, he's been drug-free now for two years. despite the fact that denny's defense has always been that brad killed hannah, oborn was never regarded as a serious suspect by hannah's friends and family. he loved hannah and that living under a cloud of suspicion has taken its toll. >> do you think this clears your name? >> i know i didn't do it. i know in the back of my mind i didn't do anything. the only thing i'm guilty of is being a bad boyfriend. if i had three wishes all three of them would be to change that. i can't. >> on a rainy sunday after the verdict hannah's friends and family gathered for a balloon release in her memory. they passed around sharpies and wrote little messages for the lost girl. her brother.
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i'm just glad that it's over, finally. now i can start mourning. father. dad will always love you, love, dad. the best friend. >> i love you and miss you so much. ♪ ♪ >> fly high, my bright star. love, tara. ask then after a brief prayer they stood by the pond and the brisk wind carried away their good-byes. farewell to hannah hill, never forgotten by her family and friends or as it turned out, by the criminal justice system. that's all for this edition of "dateline." a reminder, we'll be back again next friday with a two-hour dateline at a new time, 8:00,
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7:00 central. i'll see you tomorrow on "today" and monday on "today." which super bowl ad worked best for you. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good night.
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the violence was just amazing. i couldn't believe it, hitting her and breaking her nose. >> it's hard to look at. an elderly san jose woman, tonight herself a fighter after she catches the thief who then turns on her and her daughter. good evening. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. a mother and daughter catch a pair of thieves breaking into their car. what happened next in that driveway of the san jose home shocked neighbors and even police. nbc bay area's george kiriyama joins us in san jose with the new details. george? >> reporter: that's right, raj. tonight san jose police are still looking for these two men. and neighbors say this was a very disturbing crime, and we're going to show you this woman's injuries and some of this video may disturb you. she was kicked and punched in the head. the black eyes are the physical proof. >> and then a scratch, scratches. >> reporter: on her elbows, the 74-year-old victim suffered a broken .

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